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2 most-wanted corruption suspects face extradition from France

By Zhang Yan | China Daily Europe | Updated: 2016-11-13 07:58

Women on list accused of illegally raising funds; trial to be in China

Two of China's most-wanted fugitives, suspected of economic crimes, will be extradited from France to face trial at home, a senior official from the Ministry of Public Security has confirmed.

More fugitives are expected to be sent back now that China is ready to begin talks about sharing confiscated ill-gotten assets with cooperative governments, the Chinese law-enforcement official says.

Both of the fugitives are women. One of them, Feng Jinfang, is a former businesswoman from Hubei province, according to the official. The name of the other fugitive was not available.

The two are former executives of private companies and are accused of fraud and using illegal means to raise funds, according to the official, who requested anonymity.

Both have been detained by French police and are awaiting extradition.

"We have requested assistance from French judicial authorities in extraditing the two fugitives," the official said.

The anonymous official did not disclose further details of the two cases, though he said it will be the second time that key fugitives have been returned from France to stand trial since a bilateral extradition treaty took effect last year.

"Their successful extradition will serve as an example for handling other corruption suspects who are still at large in other Western countries," he says.

In September, Chen Wenhua was extradited from France after spending three years on the run in that country. Chen, who was accused of using illegal means to raise funds totaling 20 million yuan ($2.95 million; 2.69 million euros; 2.37 million), was the first to be extradited under the new treaty.

In recent years, some Western countries, including the United States, Canada and some European countries, have become popular destinations for fleeing corrupt Chinese officials, due to lack of treaties and differences in law, according to the ministry.

Fugitives have transferred billions of yuan in illegally obtained funds to their foreign accounts through money laundering and underground money changers, it said.

In April last year, Interpol issued "red notices" to track down 100 major corrupt Chinese officials. Since then, 35 have returned to face trial from 16 countries and regions.

Although progress has been made in catching fugitives, authorities are facing difficulties in "confiscating and recovering large sums of illegal funds", the ministry official says.

China intends to negotiate with France to sign an agreement on sharing the illicit assets that corrupt Chinese officials have sent illegally to France.

"Such an agreement will provide a legal basis for France to share the confiscated illegal funds with us, provided they can identify the money as illegally transferred to France," he says.

Li Wei, a lawyer from the Beijing Lawyers Association, says that after signing such an agreement, the two countries will "share the ill-gotten money in a reasonable proportion after case-by-case negotiation based on international conventions".

According to the ministry, Chinese police will place more emphasis on returning the ill-gotten assets by enhancing communication and strengthening law enforcement cooperation in an effort to freeze and recover assets.

Huang Feng, a law professor at Beijing Normal University, said: "The priority is to offer a complete chain of evidence to our counterparts in Western countries to request their judicial assistance in identifying, freezing and confiscating the illegal proceeds in a timely manner."

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